Bored employees misbehaving: The relationship between boredom and counterproductive work behaviour

Kari Bruursema, Stacey R. Kessler, Paul E. Spector

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


In this study, the relationships among boredom proneness, job boredom, and counterproductive work behaviour (CWB) were examined. Boredom proneness consists of several factors, which include external stimulation and internal stimulation. Given the strong relationships between both the external stimulation factor of boredom proneness (BP-ext) and anger as well as the strong relationship between trait anger and CWB, we hypothesized that examining BP-ext would help us to better understand why employees commit CWB. Five types of CWB have previously been described: abuse against others, production deviance, sabotage, withdrawal and theft. To those we added a sixth, horseplay. Using responses received from 211 participants who were recruited by email from throughout North America (112 of them matched with co-workers), we found support for our central premise. Indeed, both BPext and job boredom showed significant relationships with various types of CWB. The boredom proneness factor also moderated the relationship between job boredom and some types of CWB, suggesting that a better understanding of boredom is imperative for designing interventions to prevent CWB.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-107
Number of pages15
JournalWork and Stress
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Aggression
  • Boredom proneness
  • Counterproductive work behaviour
  • Job boredom


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